so basically I've gotten the chance to build a computer that has a budget of $2,000 to $3,000. But I just don't know anything about computers. See I'm in dire need for an upgrade from my current MacBook Pro, and this is because I work using the 3D Animation program known as Blender. I need a PC that renders animations in Blender extremely fast, both Cycles and Internal. I also want to use this computer for gaming. I won't keep too many games on it, I for the most part want to just run Dolphin Emulator on it and maybe a few other PC games, but I need to know what I need in order to build this computer that would be within my budget. I don't know anything, nothing about CPU, GPU, nothing. I want to get a high quality monitor, 4K or higher, a good keyboard which I can probably choose on my own, and uh yeah that's pretty much it. Here are the specs for my recent MacBook Pro:

Processor - 2.3 GHz Intel Core i7

Memory - 16 GB 1600 MHz DDR3

Graphics - NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M 2048 MB Intel Iris Pro 1536 MB

So my sister got her computer built and i want to follow the same steps she did which was getting all the information and then buying the parts needed, and then going to Fries Electronic so I can get it built. Again, not sure about what all that info is and I don't know if this is possible but I heard that you can have multiple graphic cards in the computer for very good improvement, if anyone can explain to me what I need (but act like you're talking to a 5 year old) then I'd be all set. Anyways, thanks!

Additional Info: Parts don't need to be available right now, things can wait a few weeks / months.

  • I was bored, so I made a complete write-up. TL;DR: Wait 1.5 weeks and then ask another 5 or so directed questions here (and don't forget to link to this Q&A for feature descriptions) and you'll have the parts you need.
    – SEJPM
    Commented Aug 2, 2017 at 13:37
  • @SEJPM what new parts are coming? i am currently building a pc and may use them. is it the intel 8 gen for desktop? when are they coming?
    – Doc
    Commented Sep 1, 2017 at 17:44
  • He could be talking about the HEDT Intel lineup or the 8th gen ones. If I was to choose one for a rendering machine, I would choose one of the upcoming i9 HEDT processors. I'm actually building a PC at the moment that will be taking a i9-7980XE, as I run a video post house. Commented Sep 1, 2017 at 18:09
  • @Doc I was talking about the Ryzen CPUs and the high core count i9 CPUs.
    – SEJPM
    Commented Sep 1, 2017 at 20:00
  • AMD try to wow idiots with their high core count, but the reality is, AMD always have more slower cores than fewer, faster cores. This is why a 4 core Intel CPU will generally feel faster than an 8 core AMD CPU. @Doc if you are going to choose, go for Intel within your price range. Commented Sep 2, 2017 at 6:52

1 Answer 1


OK, so let's go through what you need (in components) and what you need from each component. You can then go ahead and either a) trust the recommendation of the people building the system for you for the specififc part or b) browse around here or other places and pick one yourself or c) make another question here for a specific recommendation for a specific part.

You'll need the following in a new desktop computer (I'll ignore peripherals here, that is mouse, keyboard and monitor):

  • A Central Processing Unit (CPU). The CPU is it what executes all the "logic" that make up applications and controls all the other hardware devices and processes and reacts to your input. Blender being a rendering program, it can split the difficult parts of its work into different chunks and process them independently, so you want many cores from your CPU (8+ preferably for maximum speed). A core is basically one "sub-CPU" that performs fast, sequential logic operations and a bunch of cores with some memory form the CPU. As for the budget, you probably want to spend about 1/3 (maybe a bit more) of your PC-only budget on the CPU and the motherboard. The options you have, include a) server-grade CPUs with many cores which are expensive and require special motherboards or b) current high-end gaming CPUs with quite a few cores (6-10) which are "cheap" and will work but not as good as the other options or c) the (very soon) upcoming AMD "Threadripper" CPUs which will have up to 16 cores for probably a reasonable price or d) the (in october) upcoming Intel Skylake-X CPUs which will have even more cores, but probably also will be expensive (although probably cheaper than a). Given your budget it is probably best to get an AMD Threadripper CPU as they come out (the 16 core one, 1950X) which will probably be just above one thousand dollars. Performance-wise it will probably be at least 10x as fast as your MacBook's CPU.
  • A CPU cooling system. This is the the fan or water-based system that cools your CPU down. The above mentioned CPUs don't come with this (usually) and thus you need a custom one. There are two main ways of doing this: A fan on-top of a metallic block on the CPU to cool it (usually quite cheap) or a water-based heat extractor on the CPU which uses water to transport the heat to a fan on the border of the case. The latter is a bit more expensive but can also move more heat away and should be much easier to clean (given that you only need to clean the outside reachable fans!). Such systems can be acquired for 50-150 USD easily and usually I'd just suggest the biggest Corsair water one that supports your CPU (rather the CPU's mount, there are adapters) and that still fits in your case, details depend on your case and your specific CPU here and should be clarified in its own question.
  • A mainboard (sometimes also motherboard or MB). The mainboard essentially connects all the components and as such it needs to be compatible with the specific CPU you are getting and everything else will usually follow naturally. As the relevant CPU recommendation is not yet out, it's hard to make a proper recommendation here, I suggest just asking another question here after the 10th August for the mainboard. If you go with the Threadripper, you should have no problem finding a really good MB for 500 USD.
  • Random Access Memory (RAM). This is the place where all the data gets stored that is too big to fit in the CPU's internal storage but that will need to be accessed again very soon by running programs. The main three metrics to look out for are: Size, Clock and Latency with the latter two having usually a minor impact on performance (a few % usually). In general, you probably want to have half or more of your MB's supported memory in-use, so in your case this will probably be 32GB which will allow you to use more complex assets in Blender and it will probably also be a bit faster than your MacBook because modern RAM is usually clocked higher by default. I can't give a specific recommendation here (because details also somewhat depend on the specific CPU and the MB) but you can probably get the RAM for less than 500 USD, for details I suggest asking another question as soon as you have the MB picked.
  • A graphics processing unit (GPU). This is usually a card that you insert into your computer, which does a lot of computations in parallel. Blender can greatly use the cheap gamer graphics cards and so my recommendation would be to get two Nvidia Geforce GTX 1080 Ti cards (probably 800 USD each). They are the top-of-the-line cards and Blender can apparently make great use of them so that having two will usually cut times in half. Also apparently the Titan Xp will not be much faster (comparison video) (but is twice as expensive). For the specific model follow the advice in the introduction ;)
  • A power supply unit (PSU). This is the piece of hardware in your computer that will take your the power out of your wall-socket and transform it such that the computer can use it. The main characterstics of these are the efficiency and the total power they provide. The efficiencies usually get certified and as such you probably want one with gold or above certification and which can supply at least 800W (because each of the cards draw 250W max and the CPU probably 150W by itself), you can probably get this for 200-300 USD. For specific recommendations, again make a new question please :)
  • Storage. Storage is the place where your data is when your computer is off or when the data is not actually needed right now. In your case it is relevant because it influences loading times of assets. There are three types of relevant drives right now:

    • Hard Disk Drives (HDDs): These are spinny drives that can store a lot of data for little money but can't provide this data quickly or fast.
    • SATA Solid State Drives (SATA-SSDs): These are drives without moving parts (similar to USB sticks) which are fast but more expensive.
    • PCIe SSDs: These are SSDs that are connected closely to the CPU which are extremely fast but also somewhat expensive.

    My recommendation would be to get one of each. Use the PCIe SSD to store your current project files, use the HDD to archive data and use the SATA-SSD to store programs, documents and games. For the HDD, probably a WD Blue 4TB (100-200 USD) will do best, paired with a Samsung 850 Evo (500GB / 1TB whatever you feel you need, 200-300 USD) and with a Samsung 960 Pro (500 GB, 300 USD, Pro because you will probably write a lot of data to it).

  • A case. The case is the thing you actually see from the outside and which holds all the components that you have. Special features that make cases interesting is the number and size of fans, whether it has dust filtering and whether it has noise-reduction and the size. You probably want a bigger case that can hold both the cards and the MB, dust filtering will also be nice, you should be able to get this for less than 300 USD. Again, specific recommendations in a specific post.

So in total we end up with 1000 + 150 + 500 + 500 + 2*800 + 300 + 300 + 800 = 5150, leaving a bit of wiggle room if I underestimated prices here and leaving enough money for a decent monitor and a decent keyboard. Performance-wise, this will overall easily be 10x as fast as your MacBook and will do most tasks with unnoticable delay.

  • If you end up using this answer as a guide to build your computer from scratch you might want to consider using PC Part Picker as a complimentary resource to find and then track and manage the cost of each component. There are also a lot of pre-configured builds that you can modify. Commented Aug 8, 2017 at 18:48
  • By the way, x299 mobos come in much cheaper than 500 USD. He could get a lower end i9 HEDT and save a bit of money overall. Commented Sep 2, 2017 at 6:57
  • IMHO, a single 1 TB M.2 SSD would be better than the mixed M.2/SATA. The price difference is only $140 (500 GB 850 EVO is $140, 960 Pro is 300 and $580), and the M.2 has 4x the sequential IO speed. OP might only need the 512 GB though, and apparently the M.2s don't really scale anymore (maybe because they're already at limit).
    – timuzhti
    Commented Sep 6, 2017 at 7:06
  • So I'm still trying to figure this all out, anyone wanna dumb it down for me? It's all just so confusing and gives me a headache. Commented Sep 10, 2017 at 23:35
  • I mean if you guys can give me your absolute best recommendations for which parts I need (like the way you told me how to get the AMD ThreadRipper 16 core CPU) that'd be great. Commented Sep 10, 2017 at 23:53

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